Helene Bertha Amalie Riefenstahl
A talented swimmer and an artist, Riefenstahl also became interested in dancing during her childhood, taking lessons and performing across Europe. After seeing a promotional poster for the 1924 film Mountain of Destiny, she was inspired to move into acting and between 1925 and 1929 starred in five successful motion pictures. Riefenstahl became one of the few women in Germany to direct a film during the Weimar Period when, in 1932, she decided to try directing with her own film, Das Blaue Licht ("The Blue Light").
In the 1930s, she directed the Nazi propaganda films Triumph des Willens ("Triumph of the Will") and Olympia, resulting in worldwide attention and acclaim. The films are widely considered two of the most effective and technically innovative propaganda films ever made. Her involvement in Triumph des Willens, however, significantly damaged her career and reputation after World War II. Adolf Hitler was in close collaboration with Riefenstahl during the production of at least three important Nazi films, and they formed a friendly relationship.
After the war, Riefenstahl was arrested and found to be a Nazi "fellow traveller" but was not charged with war crimes. Throughout her later life, she denied having known about the Holocaust, and was criticized as the "voice of the 'how could we have known?' defense." Riefenstahl's postwar work included an autobiography and two photography books on the Nuba people.
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